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The Year of the Kneale Olympics – Into the Unknown: the Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale by Andy Murray and We Are the Martians edited by Neil Snowdon

Quatermass and the Pit (1959-60)

Quatermass and the Pit (1959-60)

A Book Review Essay by Tony Williams.

It is as if in movies, TV and books, genre progresses through a series of metaphorical prison walls. Inferior and derivative work merely scratches the surface, some not even that. But the giants – the geniuses and serious innovators – smash the walls down before our eyes, allowing whole new narratives to be born. And the myths that result from this are with us forever, a PETER PAN, DRACULA, QUATERMASS. Kneale was such a giant and he transformed our world. (1)

2017 is certainly an Olympic Year for two fascinating studies of one of Britain’s great television dramatists, Nigel Kneale (1922-2006), whose legacy deserves to be more widely known than it is today. Although several contributors to Snowdon’s anthology feel that Kneale has been unjustifiably forgotten in comparison to television writers such as Alan Bleasdale (1946- ), Trevor Griffiths (1935- ), David Mercer (1928-1980), and Dennis Potter (1935-1994), even these latter talents have been subject to British benign neglect in favor of pursuing ephemeral and present entertainments. Even Mercer’s The Parachute (BBC TV 1968) does not stand up to scrutiny now, though I would love to see the final part of his Robert Kelvin trilogy Emma’s Time (1970) again as well as the now lost conclusion of his first television trilogy Birth of a Private Man (1963). Undoubtedly, Kneale has suffered in comparison to these celebrated members of a televisual “Great Tradition” because of his association with a genre not taken seriously – although his accomplishments went well beyond the Quatermass series and other philosophical science fiction explorations. His relative marginalization as a “sci-fi” scriptwriter is as redundant as limiting Alfred Hitchcock to the comfortably dismissive definition of “Master of Suspense” and Howard Hawks as “someone who wanted to tell a good story.” Sometimes, talents have to be rescued from their self-dismissive attitudes but Nigel Kneale knew he was “good” (in the Hawks sense) from the very beginning and his problems arose from being in an condescending British culture in the post-war era and later from a television industry that refused to develop the creative potentials of the medium seen in the very beginning, as that informative 1990 study Days of Vision: David Mercer and Television Drama in the Sixties by Don W. Taylor reveals. In addition to American admirers such as John Carpenter and Joe Dante, Kneale’s work has long been celebrated and recognized by the British critical and fan community but, like Ken Loach’s television drama, has not gained the respect it deserves. As David Pirie notes in his essay “On Nigel Kneale,” the writer suffered not only from UK snobbery concerning the value of fantasy and science fiction but also the realist tendency affecting immediate post-war drama and television. This also inhibited the recognition not only of Hammer horror as Pirie noted in the two editions of A Heritage of Horror but also the work of talents such as The Archers and denigrated genres such as Gainsborough Melodrama and the vital British film noir tradition. Joe Dante also recognizes the role of genre snobbery inhibiting Kneale’s recognition in this collection (239).

Into the Unknown by Andy Murray (Revised and Expanded, Headpress, 2017) and We Are the Martians, edited by Neil Snowdon (PS Publishing Ltd, 2017), both more than coincidentally emerging from independent presses, will correct this prejudice. After all, prestigious university presses who produce material such as Utopian Television and The Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference attendees (described by a friend whose identity I must keep secret for job market reasons) “with most papers delivered by arrogant jerks who wrote them only hours before on the plane” will never recognize the talent of a creative person such as Kneale.

KnealeFor those unfamiliar with his work, this brief TV documentary will suffice. It begins with a clip from the BBC TV 1958-59 production of Quatermass and the Pit that I was fortunate enough to see on its original transmission. My late friend Harry Nadler, co-founder of the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films, was fortunate enough to see all transmitted episodes of The Quatermass Experiment (1953), only two of which survive today. I also managed to see the one and only transmission of The Road (1964) and memories of its visual imagery and haunting sound effects remain with me. While The Road is sadly lost, fortunately the second version of Wuthering Heights (1962), directed by Quatermass and 1984 collaborator Rudolph Cartier, remains fondly embedded in my memory. (2) Kneale was a great talent but all such people need sympathetic collaborators and Cartier was one such figure in the writer’s greatest achievements.

If I devote relatively little space to Andy Murray’s revised and updated edition of Into the Unknown, it is not due to any supposed deficiencies but rather in praise of its indispensable nature. It first appeared in 2006, the year of Kneale’s death and concluded with its subject still alive and in good spirits. I have a copy of this edition in my library ever since it appeared and have always appreciated it not just as an excellent biography but also for its very valuable cultural and historical information, important details about Kneale’s equally creative family and those he had influenced in many ways. It is an appealing and first-class work, the first major study devoted to Kneale that has put BFI Publishing and Manchester University Press to shame in ignoring this very important British talent. One would have thought that having given a monograph to television writer Terry Nation that the latter press would have also commissioned a similar one on Kneale himself. However, Murray’s original readers were the winners since his first edition represented the best qualities of a critic wishing to engage with his audience in furnishing detailed criticism and lively prose. This second edition does not disappoint. While the first version ran some 191 pages without an index, this second edition not only contains that very valuable index but also some 336 pages and 17-page postscript bringing the story up to date. Supplementary information appears in every chapter that Murray has seamlessly interwoven into his original text in the most professional editorial manner. This new edition also contains a selected filmography, additions to the acknowledgements section including published sources and special mention to others such as the late David Prothero (whom I once met in Cardiff). He also has discovered a still from the lost BBC TV production of The Creature (1955) on p. 61, later remade as Hammer’s The Abominable Snowman (1957), as well as an additional still from the now sadly lost The Road (1962) on p. 125.

Andy Murray’s work on Nigel Kneale still remains the key study on this very important and still marginalized talent in British film and television. It reveals once more the value of independent research conducted outside institutional educational frameworks and promoted by alternative publications lacking still prevalent prejudices and class biases by their more prestigious rivals that often prevent the appearance of significant work devoted to unjustly marginalized figures. Andy Murray’s book not only covers the well-known science fiction areas of Kneale’s work but also broader dimensions of artistry and characterization that is often overlooked in most treatments. Back in 2006, Murray revealed the essence of a talent not just defined by the Quatermass series but other areas relevant to contemporary life whose echoes resound more strongly today. As a devoted and astute critic, Murray recognizes the successes and near-misses of Kneale’s contributions to achieve that very important balance inherent in any legitimate exploratory “common pursuit” of knowledge.

UnknownI can only say to those unfamiliar with this book and Kneale’s work: “Read it and see as many of Kneale’s surviving productions as possible.” When it first appeared, those of us who had grown up with Kneale and fortunate to see his work when originally broadcast thanked Murray for his exploratory work. It really should have inspired further investigations of the comprehensive nature of Nigel Kneale’s contribution to not just British but international cultural history stimulating better work in both film and television than what is generally available today. Appearing this year alongside We are the Martians, this revised and updated edition of Into the Unknown complements the long awaited appearance of an important collection devoted to Kneale’s important legacy.

After an initial rocky ride delaying the revised edition’s appearance, it is gratifying to have read this pdf version of We are the Martians and I hope the publishers will soon send me a copy of the official publication, when available. Edited superbly by publisher and contributor Neil Snowdon, this collection is a labor of love on the part of its creator who has produced not Peter Cushing’s version of the Creature in that 1957 Hammer film but one resembling Michael Sarrazin’s initial appearance in Frankenstein – The True Story (1973). However, this quality creation will endure and not undergo Sarrazin’s tragic deterioration in that celebrated TV movie, to which the recent edition of Little Shoppe of Horrors devoted its entire edition. Contributors include not just well-known figures such as Stephen Bissette, Tim Lucas, Ramsey Campbell, David Pirie, Kim Newman, Joe Dante, and Richard Harlan Smith, but also other emerging figures from the international fantasy community ready to make their mark creatively and critically.

Following the republication of Tim Lucas’s poignant obituary of Kneale from the Tuesday October 31, 2006 Video Watchblog, the table of contents begins with forward by Mark Gatiss and introduction by Neil Snowdon. Mark Chadbourn’s “The King of Hauntology” imaginatively explores Kneale’s formative years against the background of Britain’s haunted environments and his post-war description of the influence of an earlier Age of Austerity on his work:

Now, here in 1952, it is time. Kneale has work to do. Writer’s work. This world he sees is threadbare and dreary, still clinging on to the deprivations and spiritual destruction of the war. There is not enough humanity. But beneath the surface, other worlds exist, truer worlds, he knows this to be true. We all do. Kneale creates a character with one foot in the past but a gaze turned high and to the future. (18)

Enter Quatermass who with his creator “mapped Britain’s unconscious at a time in our history when all sorts of lines were blurring” (23).

Lucas and Bissette contribute detailed and well-informed articles. In “The Literary Kneale,” the former not only analyzes stories in the author’s early Tomato Cain (1949) collection but also connects them to the mood of British post-war fiction exemplified by Amis, Braine, Burgess, Sillitoe, Golding, Lessing, and Orwell. “The war, the destruction of London – these are not often mentioned in Kneale’s stories, yet the trauma of war is deeply imprinted on most of them, primarily in the cracks and fissures of its characters” (71). Lucas also emphasizes that the published novel Quatermass (1979) is not a novelistic adaptation as other tie-in books of films usually are but a highly accomplished literary work by a man of many talents “adamant that he not be considered a horror, science fiction, or fantasy writer” (73) but a unique talent in his own right. Like Lucas’s contribution, Stephen Bissette’s “The Quatermass Conception” is another detailed, well-researched article revealing both Kneale’s relationship to past and future concepts by others (many based on elements he initiated). This chapter is an extension of his fine The Quatermass Experiment television and film versions he wrote in Video Watchdog 12 (1992). Neil Snowdon contributes a stimulating interview with Kneale’s widow Judith Kerr who not only mentions her role as a writer in post-war British television but her late husband’s humor as seen in that discovery of a British flag by UN astronauts in the opening sequence of The First Men in the Moon (1964) as well as her own writing contribution to the six-part BBC TV Huntingtower (1957) series. Coincidentally, it featured Richard Wordsworth as John Heritage, an actor who played the doomed Victor Carroon in the 1955 film version. Like myself, Ramsey Campbell is one of the few champions of the Kneale-inspired Halloween III (1982) in his brief, but stimulating “On Nigel Kneale.” Despite removal from the credits, Campbell sees the spirit of Kneale operating like a ghostly manifestation of a cinematic “stone tape” haunting Carpenter’s film version with “the play of ideas that informed Kneale’s greatest achievements and I assume its use of Stonehenge derives from an abandoned element of The Quatermass Conclusion (which originally was to use that location)” (174). John Llewellyn Probert contributes informative personal observations on Kneale’s work mentioning also the BBC TV production The Road (1964). Award-winning writer Maura McHugh contributes a fine article from a later perspective since she never viewed any of the original transmissions. She is an ideal person to recognize creative and generic impulses in Kneale’s work frequently citing many examples that take on added resonance today. Are not The Planet People from Quatermass anticipations of those irrational, post-millennial youth groups refusing to engage in debate as well as their older Fox News-reared anti-intellectual counterparts, one of whom is enthroned in the Oval Office?

One of them screeches, ‘Stop trying to know things!’ They are directly opposed to everything in which Quatermass believes, solving problems through rational deduction. They are all mad instinct and rejection of systems, thus most of them are destroyed in the ‘lovely lightning’. (215)

WeAreTheMartiansCoverIn contrast to those Planet People, Joe Dante engages in informed discussion with Neil Snowdon telling of his early exposure to Kneale’s work in cinematic venues evoking tales I once heard concerning the appropriately named “The Bug” in pre-war Swansea and London’s notorious Biograph in the 70s that housed different forms of a “Creeping Unknown.” As well as acclaiming The Abominable Snowman (1957) as the best snowman film ever made (despite Forrest Tucker replacing Stanley Baker in the original, now lost 1955 BBC TV play “The Creature” directed by Rudolph Cartier) , Dante applies an expert cinematic eye to the film version of Quatermass and the Pit (1967) wishing that it “had been a little less brightly lit” (236), but also acclaiming its well-acted and well-cast ensemble (237) revealing his expert knowledge of Kneale’s television work.

It is important to recognize that, like all great creative talents, Kneale cannot be confined to one genre, as Richard Harland Smith’s essay on Kneale’s screenplay for Look Back in Anger (1959) and The Quatermass Experiment shows. The essay contains many imaginative insights into the work of a writer affected by the post-war experience as Lucas also demonstrates. “Carroon and Jimmy Porter are walking amalgams. Carroon having assumed/consumed the essence of his fellow astronauts and Jimmy the everyman of his generation, the voice of a nation embroiled in a crisis of identity” (259).

The now lost version of The Road is my equivalent to the cinematic Holy Grail of the full version of Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). I saw it only once so my memory may be faulty, but certain images, sounds, and acting resonate in my mind to this day. As other contributors recognize, Kneale wrote mainly for actors and his fine scripts delivered by the most appropriately cast talents, directed by creative collaborators such as Rudolph Cartier, represent the finest examples of British television drama whose achievements have now been most sadly lost in this commercial post-millennium era. The reconstruction of a scene from The Road in the Kneale documentary cited above is inaccurate since in the original version one never saw the apocalyptic scenes of nuclear destruction witnessed by the formerly cynical eighteenth character Gideon Cobb (John Phillips). Instead, as the sounds of the imminent future holocaust became more insistent, the camera moved into a close-up of his now disturbed face totally bereft of his former distant persona. (3) As Cobb gazes in horror at humanity’s end, a white light increasingly dominates the screen as his face becomes more and more terrified until the final explosion sounded drowning out the frightened cries of his modern descendants. Jonathan Rigby recognizes in his essay on this lost masterpiece “The Promised End,” that it was the creative use of sound that marked this production from the very beginning of the first abrupt electronic effect heard in the “haunted wood” until its apocalyptic crescendo in that climactic scene. As Rigby notes, the script survives, “contemporary viewers were indeed shattered by the experience” (268) – and I include myself. “Merely on the page, Kneale’s detailed description of the future apocalypse has extraordinary power, leaving the reader emotionally drained and yet shattered” (268). I agree to a point but without having the actual production, one misses the intensity of Cartier’s direction, the well-written performances of Phillips, James Maxwell’s dense yet obsessively scientific enquirer Sir Timothy Hassall, his flirtatious wife Lavinia (played by Ann Bell), and Meg Ritchie’s Tetsy continuing the role of the intuitive female pioneered by Christine Finn’s Barbara Judd in Quatermass and the Pit (1958-1959), and continued tragically by Jane Asher in The Stone Tape (1972).

Following Neil Snowdon’s conversation with Mark Gatiss where the latter states that Kneale “absolutely invented so much of what we now consider the staples of Science Fiction and Fantasy writing” (281), the writer’s “fierce intelligence and integrity” (286), and the brutal aspect of film and television in rejecting talents on the grounds of ageism, is Kier-La Janisse’s analysis of The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968). As well as noting it as Kneale’s early recognition of the insidious “reality television show,” she also refers to another work, The Big Giggle (1965), that anticipated teen suicide (295). Stephen Volk contributes a fine essay on The Stone Tape followed by Mark Morris’s overview of the Beasts (1976) series, many of whose episodes offered opportunity for fine performances especially by Elizabeth Sellars and Anthony Bate (1927-2012) in “During Barty’s Party.” Like Michael Kitchen, who appeared in one of these episodes, Bate was one of British television’s finest actors making the supposedly villainous Sir Brian de Bois Guilbert in BBC TV’s Ivanhoe (1970) much more appealing than its supposed hero, played by Eric Flynn as a right prick and creepily depicting the ominous Inspector Javert opposite Frank Finlay’s Valjean in the 1967 BBC TV series Les Miserables. In his analysis of the “Baby” episode of Beasts, Jeremy Dyson comments that were Kneale “with us now he might see that the occasional wrong-headed obstruction he got from TV executives was but the buzzing of a mildly-irritating fly compared to the swarms of hornets most writers have to contend with these days” (345).

The four part 1979 ITV Quatermass serial is commonly regarded as the least accomplished of this series, but Jez Winship provides a very plausible defense of this production followed by a detailed bibliography that includes Tobias Hochserf’s Journal of British Cinema and Television 7.3 (2010) article on Rudolph Cartier also worth exploring. David Sutton’s 1980 interview with Kneale titled The Quatermass Conclusion follows, suggesting a tentative closure aimed at limiting the writer to Quatermass although it does cover other topics. Three other fine articles in this collection appear. Tony Earnshaw explores The Woman in Black with contributions by Chris Burt and director Herbert Wise while Thana Niveau’s “Where’s Nigel Kneale when you need him?” reveals that the writer did recognize good roles for females in several of his productions as well as their centrality within certain productions. This is one of the finest and innovative articles in this collections, suggesting potential for new explorations of Kneale’s work. Fortunately, fiction writer Lynda E. Rucker provides the final essay in this collection rather than Kim Newman’s third uninformative contribution of “Sharpe’s Gold” and “Ancient Histories.” American-born Rucker also recognizes the importance of Jill’s role in The Stone Tape seeing her not just as victim but also as “conduit to the paranormal” (461). What came to mind as I read this interesting article that forms an apt complement to that by Thana Niveau is that the ending of The Stone Tape with Jill’s cries left on the soundtrack anticipates that poignant ending of Brian De Palma’s Blow Out (1981) where we are left with Nancy Allen’s “perfect scream” on the soundtrack, the result of another manipulative male’s actions in this film. Is this a Kneale influence again?

Quatermass and the PIt (1967)

Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

The one irritant in this collection (resembling the boil discovered by Leonard Whiting on Michael Sarrazin’s neck in that 1973 TV movie as well as the fly in Jeremy Dyson’s description above) concerns the three (too many!) contributions by Kim Newman. Although an iconic figure of British fantasy and horror circles, his work is at best taxonomic and at worst characterized by too many condescending comments and bad jokes that tarnish the far superior type of popular and serious film criticism undertaken by veterans such as Lucas, Bissette, and Harland Smith. As a well-known figure on UK TV, this writer, a BFI version of the “Owl of the Remove,” never ventures into any form of visual and aural investigation of Kneale’s work and appears blind to the significance of what he has viewed. Andy Murray’s book contains quotations by Newman that are relevant to the item discussed and not as irritating as his media appearances. Newman’s generalizations never penetrate to the heart of material that involve recognition of important aural and visual qualities let alone recognizing the intricate nature of performance by actors reacting intuitively to the nature of a stimulating script that they can respond to in their best manner. This is especially so in his comments on the rediscovered version of Wuthering Heights. Never does he once explore the televisual elements of Cartier’s direction nor the role of actors who deliver remarkable performances. Instead, he frequently descends into the area of condescending “bad jokes” far worse than those performed by Woody Harrelson in Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion (2006). David MacCallum’s Edgar Linton is described as having an “an elaborate hydrocephalic hairdo and an infuriatingly genteel manner” (189). This is not my memory of his performance but rather an opportunity for Newman to make one of his cheap condescending jokes similar to his later comparison of Edmond 0’Brien “looking like Tony Hancock” in the 1956 film version of 1984. (193). Also, nothing is mentioned of the poignant performance of Keith Michell’s Heathcliff towards the end who carries Cathy’s dead body with the lines “How can I live without my soul” with a pained tragic expression on his face. Granted that should I see this version again, I might change my mind as I’ve done with David Mercer’s The Parachute (1968). But to ignore the frightening moment in the first 15 minutes when Cathy’s ghostly hand grips Lockwood’s begging to be allowed inside (a moment paralleling that first sound effect in The Road and the beginning of that aural onslaught in Quatermass and The Pit) is really inexcusable. That is one of the gripping moments I remember to this day as well as Heathcliff throwing Lockwood (Ronald Howard) out of the room and calling plaintively to the now vanished Cathy (Claire Bloom) in the storm outside during the prologue. June Thorburn as the ill-fated Isabella and Jean Anderson as Ellen who ages in appearance and character throughout this production are given short shrift by Newman who seems to have no understanding of how actors could really appreciate television directors such as Cartier and talented writers such as Kneale. As UK media joker his humor is lamentable evoking Danny Kaye in The Court Jester (1955): “Yea, Verily, Yea.” Surely, other contributors could have been contacted who could have written articles similar to those expert treatments by Kier-L Janisse, Maura McHugh, Thania Niveu, Jeremy Dyson, and Lynda E. Rucker.

I fondly remember that old publicity logo accompanying the release of the first two components of Sergio Leone’s “Dollar Trilogy”: “This is the first film of its kind. It won’t be the last.” Hopefully, this will also be true of sequels by Snowdon and others who will continue this pioneering work revealing the importance of Kneale as a great British talent and further exploration with more discoveries, such as analyses of Kneale’s Halloween 3 screenplay, motifs in his unfinished Quatermass prequel known as “Quatermass in The Third Reich” that Judith Kerr mentions in her interview (163), and the contributions of exiled German talent Rudolph Carter brought to Kneale’s writing. Judith Kerr’s television credits may be another area worth exploring. Whatever happens Murray and Snowdon have shown the way. As Dante puts it at the end of his interview, “I think it’s imperative to write books like this one, so this stuff doesn’t get lost” (241). This particular debate must continue and we owe a debt of gratitude to Murray, Snowdon, and many of his contributors for getting the engine started again. They have all made 2017 The Year of the Kneale Olympics in showing how Television can reach the same creative dimensions as the other arts in terms of allowing certain talents to develop in so many ways despite the obstacles they faced.

Endnotes

1) David Pirie, “On Nigel Kneale.” We are the Martians. Ed Neil Snowdon. Hornsea, England: PS Publishing, 2017, p. 186.

2) For Rudolph Cartier’s struggles to gain a foothold in British cinema as an exile during the 30s and 40s. See Tobias Hochscherf, The Continental Connection: German-Speaking Emigres and British Cinema, 1927-1945.” Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011, pp. 59, 53, 68-69, 97, 152-3, 211-216-17.

3) Keenly aware of “how cinematic television drama must become if it is true to its own resources” Cartier employed many techniques from the world of film to his television work. “A most prominent device in many of Cartier’s early programmes is the close-up, which he singled out as a particularly useful technique for the small but intimate television screen to project emotion and anxiety.” See Tobias Hochscherf,” From Refugee to the BBC: Rudolph Carter, Weimar Cinema and Early British Television.” Journal of British Cinema and Television 7.3 (2010): pp. 411, 412. This corresponds with my memory of the Cobb close-up in The Road. Like Kneale, Cartier deserves further exploration and I have since remembered many of his productions that hopefully have survived revealing him as multi-talented as l Kneale. Among his other BBC TV work I saw were Clive of India (1956) starring Marius Goring, Dark Victory (1956) featuring Edana Romney (1919-2002) in the role made famous by Bette Davis, his 1956 BBC TV production of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera The Saint of Bleeker Street at a time when broadcasts of opera were rare, Rashomon (1961) featuring Yoko Tani, Lee Montague, and Robert Hardy, the noir televisual version of Henry James’s The Aspern Papers (1962) starring Edmund Purdom, Siobahn McKenna, and an appropriately mummified Beatrix Lehman portraying Juliana Bordereau, and Lee Harvey Oswald: Assassin (1966) featuring Tony Bill in the title role, Dora Reisser as Marina Oswald (who will be forever immortalized for her brief lines in Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen – “Wolfgang, who bist du..Ich gehe” before she exits right with Telly Savalas!) , and Donald Sutherland whom I can’t recall. What I do remember is Cartier exactly restaging the moment of Oswald’s assassination in a documentary-drama manner. Also Cartier directed Cyril Shaps in the title role of The Joel Brand Story (1965), an actor normally relegated to forgettable secondary roles. Not only did Cartier evoke a touching performance from this actor but also added even more sinister overtones to Anton Diffring’s Adolf Eichmann by giving him a bit of business in which cracking an egg with his spoon took on really aggressive overtones that have remained in my mind even today! Ironically Diffring (1918-1989) was both Jewish and gay, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany often typecast as a Nazi in his many film and television performances. He had been interned in Canada during WW II. In the BBC TV production of Doctor Korczak and the Children (1962), co-starring the East German actress Petra Peters (1925-2004), her husband Albert Lieven (1906-1971), and Joseph Furst (1916-2005), Cartier began the production in a Brechtian manner with the actors playing themselves and Diffring regretting that he had to play the Nazi villain once more in his career! Cartier had earlier directed Diffring in the BBC TV 1961 Sunday Night play Cross of Iron written by Robert Aldrich’s future scenarist Lukas Heller about German inhabitants in a British P.0.W. Camp court-martialing one of its number. Also co-starring Albert Lieven and Joseph Furst with Michael Sarne as one of the prisoners, the production featured Diffring as an older Prussian naval officer Korvetten-Kapitan Griesch responsible for the railroading of an innocent victim for which he would be held accountable by the rest of his fellow prisoners at the end of the play. According to the ImdB “Trivia” material Robert Aldrich saw the transmission that led to a complaint from the German Embassy and wanted to make his own film version of the production which he never did. The concept was used towards the end of the third season of the BBC TV series Secret Army (December 15, 1979) as well as in Guiliano Montaldo’s film Gott Mit Uns (1970) and was based on an incident that happened in Amsterdam during May 1945. I bitterly regret not watching Adventure Story (1961) starring Sean Connery as Alexander the Great and The Respectful Prostitute (1964) starring blacklisted Lee Grant opposite Andre Morell but may have seen The Frog (1958) with Wilfred Pickles and Michael Caine as Third P.C. Even if I did not, this citation reveals that Cartier shared the West German fascination for Edgar Wallace adaptations. Cartier would have directed Corridor of Mirrors (1948) had there not been objections by the British ACT Union (see Hochscherf, 2011, p. 127) so he is credited as producer and Terence Young as director but the expressionist-noir style seems more appropriate to Cartier rather than Young who never made this type of film again during his career. Although Cartier was credited as producer, this was Young’s first film as a director so Cartier’s influence may have been more than nominal in this British dark romantic film noir that was very unusual for the period. It starred Edana Romney whom Cartier would later direct in the BBC TV version of Dark Victory mentioned above. From my memory the death of Marius Goring’s Clive was filmed in dark expressionist lighting that later followed an expertly choreographed mob scene showing his return to England in disgrace. The Aspern Papers contained very expressive noir camerawork in several night scenes. In the closing sequence of The Saint of Bleeker Street, an Italian-American brother unsuccessfully attempts to prevent his sister taking her vows with nuns cutting her hair as she lays on the ground devoting her life to religion. He is held back by others and can only vainly call on her to reject the path she has voluntarily chosen. It is shot in a gripping dramatic manner by Cartier that complements the operatic intensity of the scene. Cartier also directed Kenneth Colley as Hitler in the 1969 Thirty Minute Theatre episode of These Men are Dangerous, an actor Ken Russell would use again in the same role in his 1970 notorious BBC TV musical biopic Dance of the Seven Veils.

Tony Williams is a Contributing Editor to Film International, author of James Jones: The Limits of Eternity (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), and co-editor of Hong Kong Neo-Noir (Edinburgh UP, 2016). Thanks to a last minute budget override of the Governor of Illinois’s veto, his place of employment is saved temporarily from becoming a new version of Winnderden Flats!

3 Comments for “The Year of the Kneale Olympics – Into the Unknown: the Fantastic Life of Nigel Kneale by Andy Murray and We Are the Martians edited by Neil Snowdon”

  1. Harry Nadler conjured icons out of the Salford smokestacks, my number one source for ‘film’ as something tactile you could get your hands on. Harry owned the dusty shop on Broad Street, Pendleton, where I bought my first film memorabilia, circa 1972-73 – – worth a fortune now, but Harry Nadler was worth a lot more. I was 13, Harry looked exactly the same when I reconnected in 1998. Good old Harry Nadler, my Main Man.

  2. Yes, I fist met Harry at his Pendleton Shop at the same time and made a freind for life. If only he could have been with us for much longer. Charles Partington, Dave Britton, and Mike Butterworth remain my closest friends. Harry was a real independent and pioneer and he is a shining example of what can be done outside the system.

  3. Love the irony of a ‘Film International’ thread convening on a dusty Salford shop in the year ‘Film International’ was founded. Truly Harry never said ‘This is a local shop for local people, there’s nothing for you here.’ If those people you’re still in touch with all knew Harry too, there’s an article in it – – the independent local role of an Enthusiast, which is what Harry Nadler was, as an accessible catalyst across a working-class borough, across the country, across Europe, from L’Incroyable Cinema to Film International. Anecdotes of what he did, how he started, in between a narrative thread exploring what enthusiasm is, how it moves, and how cinema opened up a sense of wonder in those days. When we reconnected in ’98 I lamented that most of the memorabilia I bought from his old shop I’d since sold for peanuts, and Harry said, ‘Ohhh we’ve all got those stories,’ and behind him about 4 guys groaned, possibly the very names you mentioned. Harry planned to interview me on stage at F.F.F. over my book project on film femmes fatales, which never happened: the book didn’t materialise, and by the time it became a passable PhD thesis, Harry was gone…to the London Symphony Orchestra playing the Star Wars theme, as I recall.

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